Browsing the internet is probably the best way to find up-and-coming metal bands these days. Whether it’s through Facebook groups, Metal Archives, or even social media like Instagram, if you look hard enough, you’ll find some real winners. Such was the case with Green Death. Browsing Instagram, I was lucky enough to stumble across what I now consider to be Des Moines best metal band and their album The Deathening. Their blend of traditional metal, thrash, doom and proto-death instantly won me over. Flash forward to 2017 and the band have another full-length and a new EP under their belt, and a new LP on the way. So in the few years since The Deathening, how far have they progressed their sound?
Pretty damn far, is the answer. The Pure Torture EP is a diverse, entertaining offering of four (three full tracks) tracks that span the full spectrum of the band’s sound.
“Viniculum” is the obligatory mood setter, with its creepy gaggle of cultists chanting in what sounds like the world’s longest hallway. It’s moody, creepy, and pretty fuckin’ metal. Most importantly though, it’s a great setup for the title track. Pure Torture is a thrashy affair that starts off strong with a drum-led intro, before switching gears and letting Mark Reinking take the spotlight with his un-fuckwithable thrash-laced doom stylings. It sounds like these guys opened a book of unused Testament riffs and decided to slow them down 50%. Making the whole thing even more tempting is the short but sweet mid-song bass solo by none other than the legendary David Ellefson himself (whose label Green Death currently live on). It’s nothing super flashy, but it’ll get your head banging, and it’s never a bad thing when bands throw bass solos into their songs. This has been scientifically proven.
Up next is the more-straightforward “The Reaper.” Mixing The Gathering-era thrash with death metal vocals, it’s an aggressive little number that clocks in at just under three minutes. It gets in, smashes the joint up, and gets out. No frills, no filler, and boasting an intense midsection drum solo that leads into the EP’s tastiest guitar solo, it’s an undeniable winner.
The real showstopper is the EP’s final track, however. “Sickle and Scythe” is a foreboding, doom-informed track with copious amounts of groove and personality with just a dash of Children of the Corn-inspired imagery. Featuring some ghostly vocals by Sol Bales, it’s one of the band’s best tracks. Combining every element of the band’s sound, it starts off as a particularly grim midpaced thrash tune with some death metal elements in its chorus, though in the song’s third movement, it introduces some titanic doom metal riffs coupled with some near-operatic vocals. It’s an impressive show of force for the band, and it remains one of my most replayed songs of the year.
Production-wise, the EP strikes a fantastic balance between old and new. Too many thrash bands these days choose volume over dynamics, so it’s nice to hear that Green Death have found something of a happy medium. Every layer of the music is audible at all times, and for a modern band, the bass is given a rather prominent place in the EP’s mix, fitting, since they got one of the Elder Gods of bass playing to lend his talents to the album.
If you’re looking for a fun, diverse platter of dark, yet rocking metal tunes, Green Death have your back with Pure Torture. It’s catchy when it needs to be, heavy when it ought to be, and fun the whole way through. It’s a thoroughly thrashy, definitely doomy, mega-metal affair that leaves me anxious to hear their upcoming full-length. It does everything it sets out to do, and it does it well.
You can find Pure Torture on EMP Label Group’s website.